This past December, I attended the Dickens on the Strand festival in Galveston, TX. It’s a great festival and I’ll show you that in this post.
If you follow me on social media, you know I like to arrive early when attending special events. It’s easier to park and I like to capture the beginning of the event with photos to add to the story of a day in attendance.
Here is a shot of the Strand. It’s a perfect place for a festival. They host a Mardi Gras celebration here also and you can read about that in another post of mine. I love how clean the street is. Nice job.
Here is the write up about the festival…
Dickens on the Strand is an annual Christmas festival organized by the Galveston Historical Foundation in Galveston, Texas occurring the first weekend in December. Established in 1974 and set against the historical backdrop of Galveston’s Strand, participants come to witness and relive the Charles Dickens era.
Here’s another write up…
For several years, Galveston’s Christmas festival Dickens on the Strand has been a big hit during the holiday season, drawing crowds of more than 35,000, according to Galveston Historical Foundation.
One of the first things I noticed at DOTS was the trash can covers. It may seem trivial, but having the trash cans covered like this increases the aesthetic value of the festival. If you didn’t notice trash cans everywhere, it worked because they blended in.
I met Scott early in the morning that Saturday. He’s a balloon artist.
When I attend special events, I like to cover the food as well. This is Naji’s food stand.
He serves a variety of food and it all looks good.
He told me that he went through 11 cases of Turkey Legs in one day.
I asked Naji to make me a plate of just a few fried shrimp. He loaded me up and didn’t charge me.
The breakfast of champions.
The event has several street vendors and that gives it a great feel for a street festival.
Captain America. Very cool look.
On this Saturday, I saw this gentleman walking towards me and I stopped him for a pic. Take note of this because it will come up later in this post.
These two guys had some really nice uniforms on. Thumbs up.
In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria’s reign, from June 20th, 1837 until her death on January 22nd, 1901.
A beautiful young lady in a beautiful dress.
Here is a write up about Dickens…
Charles Dickens, Charles John Huffam Dickens, (born February 7, 1812, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England – died June 9, 1870, Gad’s Hill, near Chatham, Kent), English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian era.
Even though DOTS is about the Dickens / Victorian era, you will see almost anything by way of costumes, outfits and garb.
Great dresses with matching hats. Very nice.
This woman is a Pony Express rider. I said I thought she was Calamity Jane. She said she gets that a lot. I think it’s the hat.
Here is the write up about Steampunk’s era…
The most common historical steampunk settings are the Victorian and Edwardian eras, though some in this “Victorian steampunk” category are set as early as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and as late as the end of World War I.
This guy did stunts like lie on a bed of nails. Interesting street performers help create a fun environment at DOTS.
This gentleman would give you a ride on the back of his conveyance. Notice how I didn’t say bicycle. That’s because I’m not sure what to call what he is riding.
And you will see Pirates at the festival.
Lots of Bobbies at DOTS.
Here is the write up about Bobbies…
Bobby, slang term for a member of London’s Metropolitan Police derived from the name of Sir Robert “Bob” Peel, who established the force in 1829. Police officers in London are also known as “peelers” for the same reason.
I came across a few Santas.
Notice her Steampunk goggles and corset. Cute girl, good look.
There was even a place to play a game of Cricket.
Here’s another gentleman offering rides.
Creative uses for the same material.
The Queen and her Court.
The beggars are a favorite of mine to photograph. The baby with black marks on his face is cute.
The festival has several groups that sing throughout the day. Great voices and great outfits.
I came across the Queen talking with Charles Dickens. She was giving him what for because he missed her party. Funny exchange.
He then read a selection for the audience. This guy looks a lot like Charles Dickens.
Here is the real Dickens for your comparison.
Great outfits and pith helmets. With Steampunk goggles as well.
My favorite Steampunk couple.
Charles Dickens wrote fifteen novels. He also wrote short stories, essays, articles and novellas.
Bobbies on this stand gave helpful info and offered great photos.
The girl in the shades struck a great pose.
Great beggar pose.
Steampunk is a favorite of mine and I love how creative people get with it.
One cute Pirate.
Beautiful dresses and parasols.
Attending DOTS is like Time Traveling. I love walking down the Strand and seeing all kinds of people. Pirates may be my favorite.
Another favorite beggar family.
I took several photos of the different choirs. One mother saw a photo on my site where I had captured her 2 daughters with their choir. She then donated to our charity foundation because she was so pleased.
I met Tony at the Texas Renaissance Festival and then again at DOTS. Great Steampunk look.
A stand sold these mugs and then you could fill up the rest of the day for free.
Three lovely ladies having a fun time.
“Get your damned dirty hands off of my wine.”
Bobbies are always unarmed and only carry a Night Stick. When they were created, it was decided to try and differentiate them from the British Military, which was viewed with some hostility.
Another parasol in this next pic.
What is the difference between an umbrella and a parasol?
Generally, an umbrella has a curved handle to allow for easy grip and storage. A parasol, however, (in Latin para for “shelter or shield” and sol “sun”) is typically constructed from more delicate fabrics such as lace, cotton, silk, linen, canvas and plastic.
The steam from his jet pack is really awesome. Great pic of a cool couple.
A good looking and sounding choir.
A fun-loving girl here.
I’ve photographed this couple at the TexRenFest also.
A beautiful woman in a great hat and outfit.
Choirs add to the great atmosphere of the festival.
Lovely hats and great sashes.
Pirates make any party better.
Plenty of food options at the festival.
Everyone has a great time at DOTS. Great parasol in the background.
Street performers are a great addition and they entertain a lot of people.
How do you make a Pirate mad?
Take away the P.
A Steampunk Santa and Mrs. Claus. Very cool indeed.
Another great pic of a beautiful woman.
It takes a lot of talent to walk on stilts. My hat is off to her.
A Bobby told me that I had a ‘Get out of Jail’ card for the day. I never needed it.
A fun pic.
This is one stylish couple.
The phrase “what the dickens,” first mentioned in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, was a euphemism for conjuring the devil.
Charles Dickens first wrote under the name of Boz because he didn’t want any negative references to the devil.
Once his work became known by the public, he used his real name.
Dickens owned a beloved raven he named Grip, and it even appears as a character in his novel Barnaby Rudge.
Following the bird’s death from eating lead paint chips later that year, Dickens replaced it with another raven, also called Grip, which was allegedly the inspiration behind Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven.”
A great looking group of friends enjoying the festival.
Edgar Allan Poe made an appearance at the festival. Here is the write up about Poe…
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States, and of American literature.
This guy did a a great job with his recitation of Poe’s work.
These next pics are from the Sunday of the festival.
Naji hooked me up with something for breakfast.
Beefeaters out in full-force.
A favorite of mine from the event.
My favorite beggar family.
Pirates and vampires. Ya gotta love DOTS.
What do you call a Pirate with both eyes and both legs?
Another write up about Dickens…
Early in 1843, as a response to a government report on the abuse of child laborers in mines and factories, Dickens vowed he would strike a “sledge-hammer blow… on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child.”
That sledge-hammer was ‘A Christmas Carol’.
I happen to catch the Queen and her procession heading down the Strand. Great pic.
This gentleman on the left said he didn’t care for Pirates, so I told him I was a Privateer. All good Pirates know how to lie.
Another great performer at the festival.
I ran into this couple again on Sunday.
He’ll always get a close-up. He looks that good.
In addition to ravens, Dickens loved cats.
When his cat, Bob, died in 1862, he had its’ paw stuffed and mounted to an ivory letter opener and engraved with “C.D., In memory of Bob, 1862.” The letter opener is now on display at the Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library.
The Ghost of Christmas Past.
A beautiful family in great clothes.
A Pirate and the cutest little dog.
Okay, now for an explanation. That gentleman that I photographed on Saturday turned out to be the great, great, great grandson of Charles Dickens.
Here’s Ollie Dickens on the left and the gentleman playing Charles Dickens.
The little dog steals the show.
Talent abounds at DOTS.
Lazy slackers, lol.
This guy played a great Edgar Allan Poe. Hat’s off to him as well.
Now for my pics from Sunday.
Here I am with Scott. He made a lot of money making balloon figures.
With the Queen.
One of my favorite pics from the weekend.
Chuck and I.
Another fav of mine with Ollie DIckens.
Well, that’s it for Dickens on the Strand – 2021. To see all of my photos, go to the link below and click on Photos. Enjoy.
Always be yourself… unless you can be a Pirate, then always be a Pirate.
This past year came with some sad news. My cousin, Lou, passed away from covid.
This post is for him.
When I was growing up, my dad was out of pocket. My sister was older and had her own friends. The closest thing that I had to a big brother was Lou.
I learned about sports from Lou. He was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and Minnesota Vikings fan and so was I.
During football season, I would go over to Lou’s in the evening to watch Inside the NFL while lying on his huge waterbed.
I remember being a small kid when Uncle Jack built that house. In the evenings, my mom would walk over and sit with Jack in the frame of the house and drink Schlitz’s beer with salt on the cans.
Lou and I grew up together and hung out a lot.
One time, Lou built a treehouse in his backyard. I wanted one also, but my over-protective grandmother wouldn’t have any of that. So Lou came over and helped me build a kid’s camp on the ground.
Another time, Lou built a small little box of a room behind their hedges in the back yard. You couldn’t see it and had to crawl through the hedges to get in. He had a can with a pipe leading outside and we kept warm with a small fire.
We would sit in there on cold days and play board games. It was in this little camp that Lou started the tradition of flipping the board when he got bored or was losing. I’d be winning and gloating… then Lou would slip his fingers under the edge of the board.
When I was least expecting it, he would yell “Spondelay!” and flip everything up in the air!
I would get SO pissed off at him. He would sit there and laugh his ass off, which made me even more mad.
Lou and I played a lot of sports together. Football, basketball, baseball, softball, golf, flag football, volleyball, whiffle ball and even Putt-Putt.
Many nights, it would be 2am and we’d drive to Lake Charles to play Putt-Putt at this 24 hour course. On the last hole, your ball wouldn’t come out, so you were through playing. We never played the last hole and kept our balls to play all night long.
There was a back road near the Putt-Putt course. After playing for hours, we’d hit our balls down the street to see who could hit them farther. Picard Town kids always looking for the fun in life.
Lou worked hard for everything he had. I remember when he got his first Camaro. It was a white Berlinetta with maroon interior.
His dad and I smoked. The first time I got in his car, I saw a sign he had put up that said, “No Smoking.” Lou took care of his stuff.
Right after Lou got that Camaro, we were in Beaumont to visit his dealership. Afterwards, we were driving down this main street. Lou mentioned that we should get some ice cream.
As we are going along, I see an ice cream shop on the left, so I point it out to Lou. He merges over into the left turn lane and suddenly a car hits us in the left rear. There was a car already in that lane.
It caused some damage on Lou’s beautiful, new car. I was sick. I always felt responsible because I had pointed out that ice cream shop.
I’ve mentioned this in an earlier post, but it bears repeating. Lou was the best athlete out of all of us. He was bigger, faster, more coordinated, and more knowledgeable about sports.
I always knew that Lou would have been an unbelievably talented college wide receiver and after that who knows… He might have been the first person from Picard Town to play in the NFL. I really believe that.
One time, we were playing a flag football game in Carlyss. Lou broke free and was running wide open. He was a long way down the field and open, but the pass wasn’t there.
Lou was pissed and kept running through the end zone. He was going full steam when he ran into a Porta-Potty. He put his hands up and hit it full force and pushed it over. It almost flipped.
When the Porta-Potty landed back on the ground, the door opened and some guy poked his head out and said, “What the fuck?” That was funny. I’m sure that Lou scared the shit out of him, literally.
Speaking of scaring people, Lou caused me to be a very nervous kid, lol.
He would love scaring the shit out of me. This sometimes ended up starting a wrestling match. I never won. There was one time that we were wrestling, and we ended up flipping and landing upside down inside of his closet. I was on top and had him in a stuck position. He had to say, “Uncle.” That was the only time I ever beat him out of many, many matches.
Lou had many friends and no enemies. I can’t say that about all of my relatives, haha.
He was well-liked by all who knew him and loved dearly by his close friends and family. There’s an old saying, “He didn’t have a bad bone in his body.”
Having said all of that, Lou was not a man to piss off. He had that O’Quain blood and many know what that means. In the history of our family, there are many stories of our Uncles getting into fights around town and kicking someone’s ass for stepping wrong.
There was a story where Uncle Jack beat up 4 Marines for disrespecting Aunt Thelma. Out of all of my Uncles, I would least like to scrap with Jackie.
Lou took after his dad in that he didn’t put up with shit. We were cruising in Sulphur one night in Lou’s mom’s car. We were parked at a red light when a guy in a nearby parking lot threw something at the car.
When the light turned green, Lou pulled into that parking lot. I thought, “Oh shit! Here it comes!”
When Lou got out of the car, the guy in the parking lot looked over and saw that Lou was much bigger than him.
Lou asked him what the fuck he was doing. He stuttered and finally said he was throwing a hotdog at the red light.
That hotdog almost got his ass kicked that night.
Lou was not afraid to speak his mind.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts about running jokes that Lou and I had like trying to beat each other back into Louisiana. I’ll tell that story again later on, but here’s another…
One time, I was looking for a job. I made a comment to Lou that I might go get a job with my mom at Brookshire Brothers Market. I never did.
One day, we were about to go to Lake Charles for something. As Lou and I are driving through Sulphur, I told Lou to pull into Brookshire’s. He did.
Then he asked me what I was getting. I told him I needed to pick up my check from Brookshire’s. Lou got pissed, then started laughing. I didn’t work at Brookshire’s and there was no check for me there.
Many times, we would be going somewhere, and Lou would ask, “Do you need to go by Brookshire’s to get your check?” Then we would bust out laughing. That was probably our funniest running joke. I still laugh at how pissed he got that first time when I made him pull into Brookshire’s parking lot for nothing.
Another time, Lou and I were over at Mark John’s house about to go out. Mark had a nice, new leather jacket that he was proud of. He said something about how nice it was, and I said, “Yeah but Mark, that’s Portugal Vinyl.” Lou and I again busted out laughing.
And that Portugal Vinyl line was used many more times in the future and always got a laugh.
I’ve had many good friends throughout my life, but Lou was my best friend. We didn’t talk much over the years when I moved to Houston, but whenever we got back together, it was like old times.
One thing that I’ll miss the most about Lou is his memories. He would bring up stories about things we did or how I did something stupid, and we would laugh all over again. A big part of my life died when Lou passed away.
One funny memory is of my screwing up song lyrics. One day, we were at my grandmother’s house and the Go-Go’s were playing on the radio. When the chorus came, I sang along, “Alex, I see you.”
Lou said, “What did you say?” I said, “Alex, I see you.” He busted out laughing. Then he told me what they were singing… “Our lips are sealed.”
One night, we were camping out. It was Lou, Tommy Lee and myself. We were rambling about something like how cool we were. Tommy Lee said, “I’m steel.” Lou said, “Yeah, we know you steal.” Boy did we laugh at that!!
I had to stop writing to laugh all over again about that “steal” line. That’s some funny shit!!
Lou and I spent many hours at Frasch Park. In the Spring, we’d sneak onto the High School baseball field and play a game with the neighborhood kids. The basketball courts were nearby, and we spent a lot of time there also.
One day, we were playing basketball with the neighborhood kids, and I was wearing my glasses. I had the ball and was dribbling around Harold Miller for a lay-up. Harold went to block me, and his arm came across my face, shattering my glasses in my eyes. I had glass particles in my eye and could feel the pieces.
I kept my eyes shut so as not to move the glass around and ruin my eyesight. I yelled out that I couldn’t see. Lou came up and I grabbed his arm. He led me to his car and brought me to the Emergency room, where they removed the glass and saved my eyesight.
Lou saved me from going blind in one eye.
I never blamed Harold. If you’re in Picard Town and you drive to the hoop, you better be ready for a hard foul, lol.
About my glasses… My dad was pissed that I was wearing my glasses while playing basketball, and he was a dick when he was pissed. Okay, to be fair, he was a dick all of the time, lol.
One day, Lou and I are in the Frasch Park Gym. We are about to play basketball, so I took my new glasses off and placed them on the bleachers.
We go on to play B-ball. There were some smaller kids on the sidelines goofing off with a basketball. You know what’s coming…
They started bouncing their ball really high.
I’m playing the game when I hear a shattering of glass. Those little Mother Fuckers!!!
They had crushed my glasses!
This occurred right after my eye incident and right after I had received new glasses from that.
That was a very long walk home that day… knowing the ass chewing I was in for.
During the Summer, Lou and I had a lot of fun. On hot days, we’d be at the park pool or at some back roads rope pond.
A rope pond was usually a big pond located near the interstate. They had dug out dirt to build the highway and created a big pond. Someone with balls bigger than mine had climbed a big oak tree and hung a rope.
Whoever did this created fun for the ones that knew about it.
We would spend hours swinging from this rope, cutting flips and hitting the water. One game we played was where a person would swing out and come back to the land. When their feet would hit the ground, they’d pop the rope and make it jump.
The next guy in line had to run and grab the rope, which was bouncing everywhere, to complete his swing out over the water and then his pop of the rope.
The ground would get wet and muddy, leading to some serious bust ass. One time, Jim Franks came swinging in and when he tried to pop the rope, he slipped and went head over heels into the bushes and got all fucked up. Everybody laughed their asses off.
No one wanted to follow Lou in that game.
Another place we used to go swimming was at Shepherd’s Rest. This was a nice area in the country that Cam Flag’s dad had set up for people to enjoy his land. There were trails, a trampoline, and a swimming area, with a diving board and rope swing.
One day, Lou and I are at the swimming area and going off of the diving board. I tried to do a gainer, which is an inside flip off of the diving board.
I fucked it up royally and ended up landing on my side. It was a fall from a good height. I didn’t know it then, but I had busted my eardrum. I had to have surgery to fix it.
Lou, his friends like Jimmy Abshire, and myself would go to the hotels in Sulphur and swim in their pools on hot summer nights. When it was just Lou and I, we’d sneak onto the golf course and go up the back way to the pool.
Then we’d climb the fence and go for a night dip. We had to be quiet because they had a pick-up that patrolled the park at night. A few times we had to hold our breaths and go under water.
We even took a few chances and dove off of the diving boards. Diving at night sucks because you can’t see the water and would hit it with your eyes open. We didn’t do that too often because of the noise from the splash.
About the golf course. I mentioned that Lou took care of his stuff. Well, Lou had this nice bike. It was red and I think it was called a Western Flyer. He loved that bike.
On rainy days, the Picard Town kids would take their bikes onto the back 9 of the golf course and ride on the fairways. How was this fun?
We’d start way back and build up speed down the fairway. When we got to a certain spot, we’d hit the brakes and slide through this now mud for a long ways. We trenched up that golf course.
That was one of many reasons why the Golf Course hated the Picard Town kids.
I think Lou’s first job was working at the Golf Course. He was always responsible.
Oh, about Lou’s bike… one time, I used Lou’s red bike to go trenching on the Golf Course. It got all muddy and Lou was pissed at me. If you ask him today, he’s still pissed about how I ruined his bike, haha!!
In the Fall, they lined out a football field in the outfield of the High School baseball field. We had some good games with the neighborhood kids.
One day, we are playing a game. There were a few kids there that didn’t usually play with us. On one play, I have the ball and I’m running around the outside. I fake this kid out and run past him.
The next kid I encounter, tackles me out of bounds. As I’m lying there, sprawled out, defenseless, the kid that I faked out came up and landed on my back with both of his knees. It hurt like hell, but I got up and kept playing.
After a day, the pain in my back was getting intense. The only relief I could get was to run a very hot tub of water and lie in it. The hot water burned my skin and took my mind off of the pain in my back.
After 2 days, I couldn’t take it any longer and asked my mom to take me to the Emergency Room.
I had suffered a renal contusion of my kidneys and almost lost my kidneys. I was in the hospital for a long time and spent most of it in a haze and vomiting my guts up. It was a horrible experience and all because I made this kid look like a fool on the football field.
I was in the hospital so long that I also lost out on my job as a Resident Advisor at U.S.L. and caused my parents to have to pay for my room and food again while away at college.
I remember that kid’s name, but I’ll keep it to myself and hope that the karma train never forgets an address.
Another time, I had to go to Houston to have an operation on my nose for a deviated septum. I stayed in the hospital for that surgery.
After the operation, the doctor stuffed my nose with moist gauze. Both nostrils were packed with this gauze, and I couldn’t breathe through my nose.
After being back in Louisiana several days, I began to pick at this gauze because it was drying out and making the inside of my nose itch. I was finally able to pull it all out. The gauze had dried to the inside of my nose, and it felt like I was pulling out my brains through my nose. God, was it a lot of gauze.
Soon after, Lou and I were in the Frasch Park gym playing basketball. The kid I was covering, popped his head back and hit me square in the nose. He did this to be a dick.
After the game, I realize that I can’t breathe through my nose any longer. After a day of this, I tell my mom that something is wrong, and we headed back to Houston.
The doctor looks up my nose and tells me that I have a Septal Hematoma, which is a big blood clot inside of my nose, blocking air flow.
He then tries to put a needle up my nose to poke the hematoma and drain the blood. The pain from that needle was so intense that I couldn’t take it. They had to bring me back into surgery and put me out in order to get the blood out of my nose. All because of a dick kid. Can you see a theme? Haha!
I never told my dad that I was playing basketball when I got hurt again. I think you know why.
Busted eardrum, blinded in one eye, a renal contusion of my kidneys, a septal hematoma… just another day for a Picard Town kid, lol.
And speaking of injuries, one day, I was at Punkin Ancelet’s house. We set up an obstacle course. We used some of Calvin Ancelet’s saw horses to jump over.
As I’m running the course, I jump over a saw horse and my leg hits it. A big sliver of wood goes into my leg. The piece of wood in my leg was as big as about 3 pencils together. This piece of wood ran parallel to my leg and was making the skin bulge out from where it was going into my shin.
I ran into Punkin’s house and begged Calvin to pull it out. It left a big hole in my shin when he pulled it out. Another day in Picard Town.
I think part of growing up in Picard Town was that you went golf ball hunting. There was a canal that went through the golf course that had trees on each side. Golfers regularly lost their balls down in this canal area.
The canal was deeper than the course and the golfers didn’t want to walk down to the little trail we had made along the water.
On Saturdays, you’d wake up and grab a sock to hold all of your found balls. You’d enter the canal trail by Punkin Ancelet’s house and walk the entire way to Highway 90. Along the way, you came across many lost balls and a lot were brand new.
After coming back with your loot, you’d go up on the course and sell some or all of your balls to the golfers. The course didn’t like this because they sold new balls at the Pro Shop. You were always on the look-out for the security guard on his golf cart.
After making a few bucks from the morning’s work, you’d head over to Tiny’s store to buy a Dr. Pepper and some peanuts. You’d pour the peanuts in the top of the glass bottle and have peanuts with every swig of your drink.
There was a movie called Caddy Shack about the wild and crazy caddies at this posh golf course. If I ever wrote a screenplay about the Picard Town Golf Ball Hunters and their adventures running from the course security, it would be a hit.
One time, Lou and I ended up with a lot of balls, all new. Too many to try and sell a few at a time to a golfer here and there.
Somehow, I got a phone number to a golfer. Lou and I were over at my grandmother’s house when I called him.
As I’m talking to him, I say, “$30 for all of our balls… or $25.”
After I got off of the phone, Lou scolded me for dropping the price. I learned that day to never lowball yourself in a business deal because they’ll always take the lower number.
About scaring people, one night, Lou and I called Elliott Ogea and someone at his house told us that he was going to the Post Office. When Lou hung up, he said, “Let’s go scare Elliott.” I was in immediately.
Lou and I drove over to the Post Office and waited for Elliott. Soon, he pulled up in his truck and went into the Post Office. Lou and I ran over to his truck. I jumped in on the passenger floor-board, and Lou hid in the bed of the truck.
When Elliott opened his truck door, I screamed and jumped at Elliott. He squealed like a scared little girl and jumped back. Just then, Lou jumped up and scared the shit out of him all over again. Boy did we laugh!!!
Speaking of Elliott, he was one of the gang that always hung out together. He played football with us and was always around. One time I owed Elliott $5.
One day, Elliott was over at Uncle Jack’s and his truck was parked in the driveway. I came walking up the driveway and noticed his passenger window was down. As I strolled by, I happen to glance inside of his truck. There on the seat was his wallet.
I reached in and took $5 out.
I then walked into Lou’s room and said, “Hey Elliott, here’s that $5 I owe you.” He said, “Great, thanks man.”
Do you know how hard it is to keep a straight face when you are busting out on the inside? It’s hard! Lmao!
I finally told Elliott about the $5 later on and had a good laugh again. By the way, I still owe Elliott that $5, hahaha!
And since I brought up some Elliott stories, here’s another flag football story. We had a lot of good friends on our team. One of those guys was Dan Sylvest. Dan was a good athlete and made our team better.
One time, Dan caught a ball and was running down the field. An opponent dove for his flags and ended up ripping off Dan’s shorts. He still had his flags, so he kept running… in only his jock.
There was Dan, sprinting for a touchdown with his ass cheeks just a bouncing in the wind. It was the funniest thing I ever saw while playing flag with those guys.
Later on, most of the guys on our team had football pants from the McNeese State Cowboys. I didn’t.
One day, I see Dan at McNeese. He told me to go look in my locker. He had placed a pair of McNeese football pants in my locker that fit me to a tee. Dan made me a very happy camper that day and I’ll always thank him for that. I wish I still had those football pants just to remember how nice Dan was to me.
When I was in high school, Randy Peveto gave me a job working with Lou. One day, Lou called and asked me if I would ride with him to Houston to pick up refrigeration parts. Randy paid me to go along to keep Lou company. I think I was making $4 an hour and damned glad to get it.
We took a pickup truck and hit the road. We made it to Houston, got the parts and headed back to Cajun Country.
There is a bridge that you cross when approaching Louisiana. At the top of the bridge is a sign that says, “Welcome to Louisiana.”
When Lou and I are getting on that bridge, he tells me, “I bet I beat you back to Louisiana.”
I laughed because we were in the same truck. How was that possible?
When the truck got near the top of the bridge, Lou grabbed the steering wheel tightly and pulled himself forward, over it. Then he stuck his head and neck out as far as he could.
When I realized what he was doing, and that sign approaching, I dove into the front windshield, trying to beat him to that sign.
He won and did indeed beat me back to Louisiana.
We had a good laugh about that and every time after that, we would struggle to see who could be home first. We never discussed it, but kept quiet, hoping the other would forget about that sign.
But as soon as that sign grew near, there would be two knuckleheads smashing their faces into the front windshield to beat the other back to the Sportsman’s Paradise.
I imagine God had to laugh at some of our antics over the years.
Lou used to fuck with me all of the time. He enjoyed it. He told me one time, “You’re too busy trying to be smart to know what’s going on.”
One of his running jokes with me was the refrigerator. I’d come into his room, and he’d say, “You want some watermelon?” I’d say yes and he’d tell me to look in the fridge.
I’d go happily look in the refrigerator for some chilled watermelon on a hot day. When I couldn’t find it, I’d yell out, “Where’s the watermelon?”
Then I would hear him bust out laughing from his room. There was never any melon. I would get so pissed at him for that. And I fell for this trick often. He would lose it every time.
One day, he tells me there is coke in the refrigerator. I go into the kitchen and open the fridge. There is no coke. As I’m looking in the refrigerator and realize I’ve been fucked with yet again, I can hear Lou laughing, and I said, “Shit!” really loudly.
Uncle Jackie was sitting on the couch in the living room and saw me look in the fridge and say, “Shit!” He got so pissed at me that he kicked me out of his house, hahaha!! Don’t fuck with Jackie.
Another time, I helped Uncle Jack build an addition to his house. Well, I started out on his crew. We poured the concrete and I helped with that. As we are working, I’m asking Uncle Jack questions.
Finally, he turns to me and says, “Paul, why do you ask so many Goddamn questions?” Then he ran me off the job, lol.
Can you see a trend between me and good ole Uncle Jack? Hahaha!
Writing this has been very therapeutic, in that I have been laughing out loud at some of these stories.
Another thing we did on the golf course was play mud football. On rainy days, the course was closed. The Picard Town kids would meet up at the Burnworth’s and jump the fence in front of their house to play mud football on the course.
We had some good games. Again, we trenched up the course. Can you see a running theme with why the golf course hated the Picard Town kids?
When we would play mud football, I preferred being on Lou’s team because no one wanted to try and tackle him in the open field. You usually ended up hurt in some way.
During the summer, we did something else fun on the golf course. Some nights, my school friend, Tim Moss, would sleep over at my house. Around midnight, we’d sneak out and take our fishing rods with us.
Behind the golf course were some levees that had fresh water running down the middle. There was even a little Dam.
We’d sneak across the golf course to this Dam and sit near the water ‘til all hours of the night, catching big catfish, and talking shit about friends, girls or coming-of-age things. That was some fun times.
I feel like I’m narrating an episode of The Wonder Years.
Tim and I were good friends as kids. I spent nights at his house also. Tim rode motorcycles as a kid. My mom didn’t know this when she would drop me off at Tim’s house on WPA road.
Tim lived in the country, and we’d hop on his motorcycle and ride the back roads. One night, Tim, his little brother Scotty and I were camping out. Somehow, we ended up with a squirrel. I guess Tim shot it because I know I didn’t.
So here we were, camping out and cooking our squirrel. Scotty was trying to get the fire going while the squirrel was already over it. I think he was using diesel fuel. The fumes from the diesel got all over the squirrel but we didn’t know it and ate dinner with no problems.
The next morning, I had diarrhea like Mount Vesuvius. I had to call my mom to come get me. I think I shit myself on the way home. I never ate squirrel again, lol.
One day, the Picard Town kids are riding our bikes on Sara street. That street ran by the golf course. Down by the levees and the Dam, there was a dumpster by the side of the road.
As we are riding by, we see 2 very big cardboard boxes. We stop to investigate.
To our surprise, when we opened those boxes, they were full to the top with Dirty Magazines. There was well over 500 of them. The boxes were too heavy for us to move, so we just grabbed some mags and headed to the Dam.
We spent that whole day in Sex Ed class as we sat at the Dam and looked at naked women. That was a fun day in Picard Town, haha!
Back to Lou, I saw him mad a few times but only a few. I never saw Lou fight anyone. I think people were scared of messing with him. There is an old saying, “Still waters run deep.” And no one wanted to know just how deep Lou’s water was.
Now I’m crying. I miss my big brother now more than ever.
I have to focus on the fact that Lou is with his parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins and friends like Ronnie Venable. I’m sure he is as happy as could be at the reunion with loved ones and also sad at leaving us so early. I know he will enjoy reading this and having some laughs, but it still hurts me badly.
I never told Lou that I loved him. It’s just not what guys do. I wish I had, at least once. Many people post about telling your loved ones how you feel before it’s too late. I wish I had done that with Lou.
I don’t hasten death, but when, and if, I get into Heaven, Lou is one of the first people I want to see.
This is our first Christmas without Big Lou and we are all that much sadder for the loss. But remember Lou as he would have wanted… fun-loving and full of life. We’ll see him again and he’ll be as happy as ever.
This Christmas, I’m giving Lou this story in hopes that it brightens his day up there knowing we all love him and miss him more than ever.
My shirt is wet with tears, and it hurts. Love can be beautiful and also painful. If I had to speak for Lou, he’d say, “Quit your crying, Bitch!” haha!
My hopes are that on this Christmas morning you remember Lou as he was, a great man and loved by all who knew him.
Thank you for reading of my love for my big brother. And although I cried while writing this, I laughed more.
Merry Christmas, Lou. I hear Jesus has some watermelon in the fridge. Why don’t you go look? Hahaha!
P.S. Do yourself a favor and read this 2 or 3 times. It gets better each time.
Would anyone want to see that movie about our adventures growing up in Picard Town? I think I’ll call it ‘Picard Town, USA’. It would be funnier than ‘Sandlot’ or any other movie about kids’ adventures.
Belief is hard for some, the Jews, Him they wouldn’t pick;
They say all He did, was a big magic trick.
Jesus was crucified, at the age of 33;
What were we doing at 33?, yes you and me.
Nailed to a cross, and left to die;
Many cried, and wondered why?
Like everyone knows, Jesus arose in 3 days;
The tomb guards, thought they were in a haze.
He sits at the right hand, of God;
We could all die, with just one nod.
We celebrate, His birthday every year;
With great presents, and fun cheer.
No one ever gives, Jesus a gift;
Thought this poem, would give Him a lift.
Happy Birthday Jesus, you are The Man;
Hope to meet you in Heaven, if I can.
One thing you should know, before I go;
Gonna give you a raincheck, if I get a call from Ms. Monroe.
Readers’ Note: I used to have this poem loaded right after my poem about Marilyn Monroe so it was easier to know who Ms. Monroe was. And for those that think it might be a bit disrespectful, I’d say that I think Jesus has quite a good sense of humor.
In previous posts, I’ve shown you the Houston Zoo Lights, River Oaks and Tanglewood. Now I’ll show you the lights in the Heights area of Houston.
The homes of River Oaks and Tanglewood are multi-million dollar homes. The homes in the Heights are regular homes in a nice, older part of Houston. In River Oaks and Tanglewood, they hire landscaping companies to do their decorating. In the Heights, it’s mostly done by the homeowners.
I’d like to own a home in the Heights because it is a little like Norman Rockwell’s America. People walk their dogs and push their children around the neighborhoods and everybody knows one another.
I liked the decorating jobs in the Heights because you can tell the homeowners did the work.
This first house looks great with the lower roof covered and the front fence done. I liked the top windows and especially the peace sign in the window. I only wish they had trimmed the top roof.
This house looked very good and symmetrical. I liked the lawn ornaments and the lit columns. It looked like they had the roof trimmed but they weren’t on.
Here’s a good looking home. The roof was trimmed and the lit garland on the top balcony looked nice, as well as the lit garland around the four columns.
I liked this house. They used stars on the trees and had a roof decoration. It would have looked better had they wrapped the two trees with lights though.
This house had plenty of lights and the roof was covered with icicle lighting. It looked really good.
I liked how this house used a lot of lawn ornaments and had plenty of light on them.
I really liked how this house had the lawn trimmed and the roof. Very nice job.
Here’s another house with roof trim lighting and a nicely decorated tree in the front yard. The lit wreaths added a nice touch.
This house could have wrapped the front trees better, but they used the icicle lighting on the roof to give a good look. The porch area had lots of color too.
Here’s a house that had the roof trimmed and lots of lighting in the front of the house. They did have a roof trim light out though.
I included this house because of the unique decorating style. Not my choice, but still a good effort.
This was one of my favorite houses. It had a great wrap-around porch that I could totally see myself sitting on during the summer with a lemonade or iced tea. The trim lights make the job and the lit candy canes looked great.
I liked the large lit wreath on the top of this house.
Here’s a house with colored trim lighting and lots of lawn ornaments. Notice how they used lawn flood lighting to light up their yard decorations.
I liked this house and the icicle lighting from the roof. The hedge and porch looked nice as well.
Here’s a good looking little house with good roof trim lighting and nice hedges. The wreath in the window to the right could have been lit though.
I liked the colored lights this house used for roof trim lighting and on the gate.
This house looked great with the trim lighting and the front porch looked good also. Had they put a lit wreath on the front door, it would have completed the job.
I liked this house and they even had Merry Christmas written in lights on the lawn. The trim lights and the large lit wreath looked very nice.
This house had lots of color and I liked that a lot. They had nice lawn ornaments too.
This house was included because of the different style of decorating. They just wrapped the lights in all directions in the trees and it looked okay after all.
This house had a good feel to it with the lights hanging off of the roof and the columns wrapped.
I liked this house because they went the extra effort to wrap the front tree very well.
This house had the lawn trimmed and the roof as well. It looked very good.
I like when these houses use lots of lawn ornaments like this house. The tree could have been wrapped better though.
Here’s another house with lots of lawn ornaments. The roof could have been trimmed though.
I loved the lit columns at this house, but the top roof needed to be trimmed out though.
This was an Inn in the Heights that had a good decorating job on it. They should have trimmed out the top windows in the front though and hung a lit wreath.
I thought this store looked very nice.
This next house was by far the best decorated home that I photographed. This had to be a professionally done job.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the lights of the Heights and also my other posts from River Oaks and Tanglewood.
You can see more of my photos from the Heights and the other areas by going to my website listed below and clicking on the green button.
In my previous Blog post, I showed the lights of River Oaks. In this post, I’ll show you the lights of Tanglewood, another affluent area of Houston.
Tanglewood has some really nice big homes, but the decorating is not nearly as good as River Oaks.
There were some nice decorating jobs, but quite a few half assed jobs as well.
This first house had potential, but they decided to let the lights around the windows just dangle instead of bordering the bottom of the windows. Also, they had a bulb out on the middle window.
Here’s the first example of a half assed job. This looks like a job where the light hangers got lazy.
This house had the trees done well and the front hedges look nice, yet they opted to leave house lights off and it would have completed the job.
This is another job with nice trees and a good sidewalk border, but again, they left off the house lights.
I liked the house lights on this home, but they had a few bulbs out that ruin the effect.
This house did a good job with the house and sidewalk, but they should have wrapped the big tree to the right of the picture.
They get a good score for the sidewalk and the front greenery, but again, they should have used house lights to complete the job.
This house used the falling lights technique, but only did it with a few lights. In River Oaks, they did it with many lights and it looked a lot better.
Here’s another house that would have looked better with roof trim lights and window border lighting.
The houses in Tanglewood all had great potential with their nice fronts, but so many decided not to use house lighting. They also should have wrapped the two front trees.
I liked the sidewalk of this house, but no tree lights and no house lighting.
The small trees at this house looked nice and they used roof lights, but the windows needed it also.
I liked how they decorated the front yard and used roof trim lights and lit wreaths in the windows. They even wrapped the columns on the second level to the left. I still think the front entry way is too dark and also underneath the lit columns.
These people always put tractors on their lawn with characters on them, but I had to use my flash because they didn’t have their decorations lit up enough.
Santa drives one tractor and Rudolph drives the other.
And the Grinch rides up front.
Here’s a house with everything. The yard has lighting, the sidewalks are outlined and the house has lights.
This house had Santa being pulled by a horse.
It’s hard to tell in this picture, but this is Santa being pulled by a bull with horns.
Here’s another half assed job.
This house had the hedges done and roof top trim lights. Had they turned off their area lights and trimmed out their windows, it would have looked even better.
I liked how this house had green lights on their lawn. If they had wrapped the trees, it would have completed the job.
Here’s the view from the front of the house. Just imagine how nice had they wrapped the two trees well.
This house looked good with the roof trim and the driveway trim. They should have wrapped the trees though.
This is one of the nicest that I saw, but they still should have wrapped the tree to the right.
I think this one would have been the best one had they wrapped the two trees in front. I liked the yard lighting and the lit wreaths in each window. They even had roof trim lighting.
Yet another half assed job. I saw so many of these that I stopped photographing them.
I liked the palms, but they could have accented the yard and used house lights.
Here is a house with nice driveway lighting, but no house lights.
This tree had potential, but the house is so dark you can barely make it out.
This house had the Three Wise Men on the front lawn.
If this house had wrapped the tree a little higher, it would have looked awesome. Also, they had a bulb out on the roof lights.
I really liked the yard lighting, but would have liked to see the house outlined with lights. Also, it looks like they had a power problem because the other side of the sidewalk was out. If both sides had been lit it would have looked a lot better.
I hoped you have enjoyed my review of the lights of Tanglewood in Houston, TX.
I hope Santa brings you everything you’re asking for.
One of the many things I love about the holidays is when people decorate their homes with lights.
River Oaks is the most affluent community in Houston, with some of the nicest homes and highest property values.
I like driving through this area because so many houses are decorated and decorated well.
Some home owners spare no expense to have their house look awesome during the holiday season.
Although I saw many houses with lights, I only included the best of the best in this Blog post.
I mentioned in other Blog posts that I used to do this type of work, so you’re getting a review by a professional light hanger.
This first tree is decorated in a new age method of just having the lights hang straight down from the tree.
It’s a good looking effect, but I can’t help but wonder if it got started by a couple of lazy light hangers who said, “Hey, let’s just let them hang instead of wrapping each branch”, lol.
Either way it started, it looks good when done right. I saw several using this method that were half-assed and looked terrible.
These trees were lining River Oaks Blvd. and there were several in a row decorated this well. It was nice to drive down the street with lights like this to look at.
Here’s a well decorated big tree, even though they decided not to go any higher.
This entry way was the best one that I saw. Not every house has a gate around the property, so not everybody had the chance to decorate a front gate area.
Here’s another group of trees with the falling lights. Not as many lights used, but it still looks okay.
I guess I’m partial, but I like white lights. Here we see a home that uses the multi-color lights. It can still look good if you do a good job of wrapping as much as you can.
Here’s another nice entry way to a property.
I put this next picture in because the tree is done well and because they have Santa on their lawn. I saw several homes with a Santa, but this one was lit up very well.
The house would have looked awesome if they had elected to put lights on it. A two story with columns in front always looks awesome with lights.
Here’s some small trees that they used only red lights. I think it looks nice.
This house had two great decorated large hedge trees near the house, bur again they elected not to decorate the house and that is a big let down because it would have completed the job.
The house looks naked without lights and there is a large tree in the front yard that needs to be wrapped.
This is a great decorated tree. I always like seeing trees like this.
Now here’s a home with trim lights on it and it looks great. Had they decided to wrap the large tree in front, it would have been one of my better choices.
As compared to this one without trim lights on it. You can see how lights on the house would have looked really good, especially with the six columns in front.
I thought this house looked nice with the light balls hanging from the tree. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but say it with me… the house needs lights to complete the job.
Now here’s a really great tree that’s using only red lights and it looks awesome. This is a very good job.
This yard is on a corner and looks very nice with Santa and the reindeer on the front lawn. The trees look good and the ground lights aimed at Santa and the reindeer help illuminate it for better viewing.
When I see trees using multi-color lights, I always think of Gum Drop candy trees because the lights remind me of candy.
Here’s another well decorated big tree. It takes a lot of time to wrap a tree this closely and have it look so good.
I liked these trees. They are doing the best they can without having any big trees in the front of their house.
These two trees were great, but where’s the house lights? You know they can afford them.
This house was the only one to use these kinds of lights. They’re actually white but look blue in the picture.
Here’s a house with lights and trees wrapped finally. The border lights along the ground made this one of my favorites.
I never tire of seeing trees wrapped so well.
This house had the front six columns wrapped very well, but they could have used lights around the windows and across the top to accent the house more. Maybe lit wreaths in front of each window.
These last three photos are of the best decorated trees I’ve ever seen.
I’ve personally seen some great trees and I’ve seen some great trees on the internet, but never have I seen two trees this well wrapped.
You can see the house between the two trees at the bottom, with their SUV.
I couldn’t see one branch that wasn’t wrapped. Depending on how many workers, this job took weeks.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the lights of River Oaks in Houston, TX. It was a pleasure driving around all night to photograph them for you.
Maybe there’s some well decorated homes in your area that you could go and look at to put you in the festive mood.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from me to you.
You can see the rest of my photos of homes by going to my website and looking in the photo galleries.
During the holidays, the Houston Zoo does something very cool.
They decorate the zoo with thousands of lights. It looks awesome and the people love it.
The zoo is open all days during the holidays except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. They operate normally until closing at 5pm, then they reopen at 6pm for Zoo Lights.
I went on a Monday because I figured the weekends were a zoo – pardon the pun but I had to, lol.
If you go Monday thru Thursday, it’s $14.95 and it’s $19.95 on the weekend.
During the week, the Zoo Lights opens at 6pm and closes at 10. I got there about 6:15 and parking was already a madhouse. I found a spot and walked up to the gate.
When I got there, I saw a really long line. Earlier I had thought about coming later in the night and let these early birds get in and the line would be smaller later.
I was wrong about the line being smaller later. When I came out, the line was twice as long. I’m glad I went when I did.
The animals are all asleep, but you can go in the Reptile House and occasionally you’ll see some birds that are still up.
This was a cool Zoo Lights display. A good place for being photographed in front of it.
The people were coming in droves. It was hard to get a picture of the decorations and trees without having other people in it.
The zoo had a walkway through the zoo that was decorated along the way. At times, it got pretty congested. I can’t imagine the zoo on the weekend nights.
Everybody was just meandering along this walkway, admiring the lights and posing for pictures.
I think I mentioned in my Lifeguarding post that I used to do this kind of work for Houston’s large amusement park called AstroWorld.
I think we had about 400 trees to decorate with lights and it took us about 3 months to do them all.
We were a crew of lifeguards working a job when the waterpark was closed. We had a fun crew and were always laughing at each other.
In this next picture, this tree is one that we would call a “Show Tree” because it is so large and looks so awesome with lots of lights on it.
Trees like this take a long time to decorate and everything has to look perfect or the defect would be noticed. Look where the blue lights meet the red lights. Not enough blue lights and too much of the dark tree is showing through.
The zoo was good about having places to take pictures in front of.
Here, a woman and her son pose for a picture.
This is another Show Tree. I see a spot where the dark tree is showing through because no lights are covering it. Can you spot it?
When we were hanging lights, we occasionally used a Man Lift. This was a motorized piece of equipment that could lift about 3 or 4 people pretty high in the air.
We had a lot of fun goofing off with the Man Lift.
The amusement park I worked in had only white lights in the trees, but the zoo uses all kinds of colors. It looks nice.
These tree displays were along the walkway.
Here’s two more tree displays. These a relatively easy to put up.
I learned a lot about Electrician work when I was hanging lights. We all got shocked several times. It’s Electrocution that kills you. Shocks just hurt like hell.
Wrapping Palm trees is the easiest job. But you have to make sure there are no gaps or dark spots, or it looks like a terrible job.
This next picture is another Show Tree. Beautiful work… although I do see one small area where the spacing of the lights could have been a little tighter.
Look at the bottom of the large branch coming out to the left. The wrapping is a little too loose and doesn’t match the wrapping in the rest of the tree. Putting another set of lights in this area would fix that.
The photo below is a good one, but nothing beats being there and seeing it up close and personal.
The lights in each tree were connected to music and pulsated to the beat of the music. There were colored lights mixed in also.
I had to pull this picture out of my video because I had to freeze the frame when all the lights were on. Trying to photograph pulsating lights is not possible.
Here’s what this scene looks like on a regular day at the zoo.
I took this picture a few years back, not knowing I’d need it for this, but because I thought it was a cool view.
Here is a small video clip of the pulsating lights in this area.
As a closing note, I broke my diet when I saw a short line at a food stand and had the loaded Nacho Fries and a lemonade for about $12. This included a nice Zoo Cup that I could take home and reuse often.
The food was awesome and I stuffed myself. I felt so full afterwards that I got depressed for breaking my diet. Then the next morning I woke up lighter than the day before, so I actually lost weight even though I gorged on very fattening food.
It was a good night all the way around.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my post and looking at my photos. Maybe one year you’ll make it to Houston to see the Zoo Lights for yourself.